Documentary – Feature
Ramiro Ledo Cordeiro
Using Peter Weiss’s novel The Aesthetics of Resistance (1975-1981) as a guide, we aim to superimpose it to the present time and see how we can take advantage of it in order to deal with our day-to-day. Respecting the formal characteristics of the text, we will access the occupied Spanish Credit Bank building, in Catalunya Square in Barcelona, through the Hotel Colón, home of PSUC in 1937, on the eve of the general strike of September 29, 2010. The discussions that took place at that night’s assembly will be later confronted and put into question by the main characters of the film: five anonymous friends who are no longer adolescents nor communist militants and yet also try to oppose the state of things, as did the protagonists of Weiss’s novel –the narrator, Hans Coppi, Horst Heilmann, Karin Boye and Charlotte Bischoff.
In The Aesthetics of Resistance, Weiss chose as pivotal the year 37 of the “short twentieth century”: in the words of Alain Badiou (2007: 1), the one which “begins with the war of 1914-1918 (a war that includes the revolution of October 1917) and comes to a close with the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War. This is the short century (seventy-five years), a strongly unified century. In a word, the Soviet century.”
In the century, 1937 is a date of no little importance. It is a metonymical year in which something essential unfolds; an absolute distillate of the essence – of the excess in the essence – of the Stalinist terror (…). Things begin to take a wrong turn in the Spanish Civil War, which is like an internal miniature of the entire century, since all of the century’s principal actors are present within it (communists, fascists, internationalist workers, farmers in revolt, mercenaries, colonial armies, fascist states, ‘democracies’, etc.). It is the year in which Nazi Germany enters irreversibly into the preparations for total war. It also represents the major turning point in China. In France, it becomes evident that the Popular Front has failed. Let’s not forget that the parliamentarians of 1937 are those who two years later will hand plenary powers over to Petain. (Badiou: 2007: 22)
In ExtraLife we’ll try to see what is obtained when by superimposing on one of the major novels of the last century, giving up the epic (for the urgency challenges it at every turn), the beginning of the century initiated in September 2001 with the attack to the World Trade Center in New York, a period that brought to Spain two general strikes (2002 and 2003), the demonstrations against the management of the sinking of the oil tanker Prestige in Galicia (2002) and against the invasion of Iraq (2003), and the general strike of 2010, which led to the 15-M Movement (also known as movement of the indignados) and the return to power of the alliance between the political right and financial capital.
I’ll work with the German edition of Weiss’ novel itself; photographs; footage from websites; collages on paper and light box; 7 hours of raw footage from the 28-S assembly, the 29-S general strike, the reconstruction of discussions following the dissolution of a unitary picket line in Plaça Catalunya on 29-S, reinterpreted on May 1st, 2011 during a conversation in a flat in Barcelona’s old quarter; 70 pages of footage transcripts…
REFERENCES: BADIOU, Alain (2007): The Century : Cambridge : Polity Press [Le siècle: Éditions du Seuil: Paris: 2005]